The following short bio was taken from a truely awesome book called "The Illustrated Werewolf Movie Guide", by Stephen Jones. It is a great overview of all movies that deal with werewolves and lycanthropes. If you are as big a werewolf nut as I, this is the book. The only place I know that carries this book on a regular basis is The Video Wasteland. Give Ken a call and tell him you heard about the books from this site. His phone# is (216) 891-1920.
Paul Naschy was born Jacinto Molina Alvarez in Madrid, Spain, on 6 September 1934. As a child, he witnessed the horrors of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939); his industrialist father managed to escape a firing squad when he was falsely denounced as a fascist by his own brother-in-law.
After spending several years living in Burgos, the family moved back to Madrid, where Naschy began to discover his love of the cinema. One of the first films he saw was, appropriately, Universal's Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943). "I had just entered the world of fantasy," he later recalled. "I knew that I wanted to go into acting, especially the fantastic and horror cinema, and above all as the character of the Wolf Man, by which I was completely fascinated."
While studying architecture at the University of Madrid, he developed his skills as a weightlifter, winning the Spanish National Championship in 1958 when he unexpectedly replaced another competitor.
Because of his impressive physique, he began working in movies as an extra, appearing in the Biblical epic King of Kings (1961) and the 'Mainly on the Plains' (1966) episode of TV's I Spy, which also featured Boris Karloff. Finally deciding to turn his hand to writing scripts, he approached his friend, director Enrigue Lopez Eguiluz. "The only movie I took my inspiration from was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," he revealed. "I told Eguiluz about my intention to write a script for a horror film about a werewolf and his immediate reaction was to accuse me of insanity. The truth is that there was no tradition for this genre in Spanish cinema."
When a German comfy expressed interest in the script, the actor changed his name to Naschy, the name of a famous Hungarian weightlifter. After testing several Spanish actors to play the werewolf and even contacting Lon Chaney Jr, who turned down the role because of ill-health, the part was finally offered to Naschy. La Marca del Hombre Lobo (1967) marked the first time that the actor portrayed the doomed lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky.
"Daninsky is a Polish name I gave to my werewolf," he explained, "thinking of the oppressed people of Poland. My character is bitter, persecuted and misunderstood, the bearer of a curse he cannot shake off. In the end he is forced to kill without wanting to.
"The fact of him bearing a pentagonal mark on his chest is a contribution of my own. So is the possibility of destroying him with a silver cross. Nevertheless, the only definitive way of eliminating him entirely is through love."
The film was finally released in America in a much-edited version in 1971 as Frankenstein's Bloody Terror. However, Naschy continued the role of El Hombre Lobo in the barely-released Nights of the Werewolf (1968), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1969), The Fury of the Wolfman (1970) and The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman (1970). When Alberto Platar, the original director of the latter film, objected to Naschy playing the role of Daninsky, the German producers supported their star.
"It was I who suggested that Leon Klimovsky should be director, " recalled Naschy, "and they liked the idea. Since then, we have been great friends. Klimovsky and I worked well together, and this led us to make other successful filmed
The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman was an unexpected success and fumed Naschy into a star. "I was very surprised by this," admitted the actor. "In the end, the audience discovered my identity."
The Daninsky series continued with Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (1971), while Naschy went on to star as Jack the Ripper in 7 Murders for Scotland Yard (1971), the Count in Dracula's Great Love (1972), a necrophiliac graverobber in BraculaThe Terror of the Living Dead! (1972), a zombie knight in Horror Rises from the Tomb (1972) and the title character in The Hunchback of the Morgue (1972). After seeing his work in the latter film, Terence Fisher offered the actor the lead in a new version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. "Unfortunately, he was quite old and this project couldn't be accomplished due to Fisher's death," lamented the actor.
He played two roles in The Mummy's Revenge (1973) and returned as Daninsky in the Spanish/Mexican co-production, Curse of the Devil (1973)' but was injured while performing his own stunts: "As there was no budget for a stuntman, I had no double for the more dangerous scenes. After falling from a horse, I lost consciousness."
He recovered quickly to play Daninsky again in Night of the Howling Beast (1975), which also featured the Abominable Snowman. Naschy describes the film as "a comic strip brought to the screen." However, he characterizes his next outing as Daninsky, The Craving (1980), as "among the best that Spanish fantastic cinema has produced."
After playing a wolfman simply for the money in the children's film Beunas Noches, Senor Monstrao (1982), he once again recreated Daninsky in the Spanish/Japanese co-production La Besha y la Espada Magica (1983). "I had to suit the Japanese mentality, changing the rhythm of the film so that they could understand it," he recalled. "I believe this is one of the best films ever made about the wolfman."
In Howl of the Devil (1988), he recreated a number of classic monster roles. "This is a very personal film," explained Naschy, "dedicated to all the marvelous films made by Universal Studios in the 1930s, which are the main source of inspiration for all my work."
After playing a character who disguises himself as a werewolf in the comedy Aqui Huele a Muerto...[Pues yo no he Sidol] (1990), the actor/director suffered a heart attack in August 1991 during production of the low budget La Noche del Ejecutor (1992). He made a complete recovery after undergoing triple-bypass surgery and went on to become the President of the Spanish Critics' Association.
In 1996 Naschy once again revived Waldemar Daninsky, this time as a successful writer of horror novels, in Lycantropus. "I haven't made a Daninsky movie since La Besha y la Espada Magica, " he admitted, and I would like to shoot a new one."
Although the undisputed King of Spanish Horror, Naschy revealed that he closely identified with his cursed character, Waldemar Daninsky: "The pity is I can't become a werewolf in true life. All too often I would like to. Like Waldemar, I too have been left aside and misunderstood. I have spent all my life swimming against the current.
"Nobody truly wanted this type of cinema in Spain in the first place. I was the pioneer of the Spanish horror cinema without any doubt, and apparently I'll conclude the cycle as well because I don't see it continuing at all..."
©1996 Titan Books
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